14 pop, rock and jazz concerts to discover in New York this weekend
AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE at Village Vanguard (March 5-10, 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.). A young trumpeter at the height of his art, Akinmusire just released “Origami Harvest”, his stellar fifth album last year, with long compositions for voice, string quartet and jazz combo. In the coming week he returns to the Vanguard – a familiar playground – with his quintet, which includes Walter Smith III on tenor saxophone, Sullivan Fortner on piano, Harish Raghavan on bass and Justin Brown on drums. Expect original music with a smoky, drifting aesthetic, and group interaction that goes beyond the formal boundaries of most small jazz groups.
KURT ELLING at the Rose Theater (March 1-2, 8 p.m.). Esteemed jazz crooner whose vocal power is matched only by his cold sensitivity to each song, Elling presents the premiere of “The Big Blind”, a drama in the format of an old radio musical. Written by Elling and composer Phil Galdston, it tells the story of a young mid-century Chicago jazz singer who tries to make his big leap. The show’s cast includes singer Dee Dee Bridgewater (a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master), stage actor Ben Vereen, drummer Ulysses Owens Jr.’s New Century Jazz Orchestra and an artist Foley providing sound effects in direct.
IMPROVEMENT NIGHTS at Happylucky n Â° 1 (March 1-2, 8 p.m.). John Zorn continues to expand the footprint of Stone, his avant-garde display boutique, which left behind his Spartan digs in Alphabet City last year and moved to the New School’s Glass Box Theater. Now Zorn is also planting a flag in downtown Brooklyn: this weekend his new series debuts at Happylucky No. 1, a gallery and event space in Crown Heights. The Stone will schedule concerts there every weekend in the future. (Reservations have already been made until the end of 2019.) Things start off the classic Stone way: two nights of round robin improvisations with some of New York’s greatest creative musicians (cellist Okkyung Lee, guitarist Mary Halvorson, percussionist Cyro Baptista and more than one dozen others) occurring in randomly discarded configurations.
TRIO JULIEN LAGE at Poisson Rouge (March 5, 8:30 p.m.). Lage, a 31-year-old guitar virtuoso, has just released a new winning album, “Love Hurts.” It is perhaps the closest track he has released to a live jazz record. But with bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King – two left-field improvisers a generation before him – by his side, a rock and free vibe weaves its way through the seams. Still the adaptive player, Lage here leans on influences from Pat Martino and John Scofield, playing his distorted electric guitar in sinuous, spiraling lines. The trio’s repertoire ranges from Ornette Coleman to Roy Orbison to some of Lage’s own tunes.
THE BIRD OF ADAM O’FARRILL BLOWN OUT OF LATITUDE AND AARON BURNETT AND THE BIG MACHINE at the National Sawdust (March 5, 7 p.m.). A flamboyant young talent of the trumpet, O’Farrill will unveil a new nine-piece ensemble that plays original, politically-oriented music: the tunes he writes for Bird Blown Out of Latitude are inspired by the traumas caused by displacement and forced migration. The tenor saxophonist Burnett is, like O’Farrill, a striking improviser with an idiosyncratic and confrontational approach to composition. Here he will be presenting material from his recently released album, “Anomaly”, with his combo, the Big Machine.